What happens when the largest demographic bulge in history (finally) goes away?
Jill Filipovic reviews the book “The Aftermath” by WaPo columnist Philip Bump:
Boomer babies fueled a huge spike in diaper sales. American school systems had to rapidly expand classrooms and hire an enormous number of new teachers to make way for the influx of young boomer pupils. While baby boomers spent much of their lives benefiting from a robust economy, Bump observes that their very existence helped to create that prosperity: They were a cohort of historically unprecedented size, whose basic need to be clothed, fed, housed and educated was a decades-long jobs creator and economy stimulator. And they were a cohort whose massive size and timing — not just in the immediate aftermath of World War II, but decades into a postindustrial era of growth, government investment and a strong middle class — meant cultural and economic dominance for much of their lives. As teenagers, boomers saw their desires met by marketers who had only just discovered that teenagers with few obligations and a little disposable cash were a huge potential consumer group. Now, as older adults and retirees with waning obligations and a lot of disposable cash, boomers continue to hold a significant chunk of American wealth and the consumer power that goes with it — and in turn, products and services for boomers have proliferated, a trend that will no doubt continue as they enter their sunset years. The government adjusted, too, smoothing boomers’ entrance into the world with significant investments in infrastructure and education, and now smoothing their exit with significant entitlement expenditures.
The analogy, not so politely, is “what happens after the snake eats a pig?” (Spoiler alert: it’s OK, metabolism and other processes change, then revert.) Unless a predator comes along while the snake is sitting there, unable to move because of its very large meal.
The book is chart-heavy, she says, and while she writes that she is going to upload several to instagram I cannot find them. Ah well. I’ll try the book, probably. The review: